Greek Gods at La Manne welcoming us for a Greek dinner
This is the first time that we've gone to a Touristra village in Summer. We've skied a number of years with them at Risoul during Winter though, the last time being in April last year.
One of our rooms
Touristra functions almost like Club Med, except that it's not Club Med, of course. We find it decent enough for winter when we just need a bed, 3 meals per day and some entertainment in French in the evening. They also look after your children, bring them to their ski classes and back, which could be useful when they are still very young. And they have a number of villages that are near the ski lifts.
Of course we do not always fit in with the company. OK, I am going to sound snobbish here, but their villages are mostly subsidized or even owned by Comités d'entreprise - every company with more than 50 employees in France is expected to have one - and some of these CEs offer, for example, heavily-subsidized holidays to their employees. So we often found ourselves among the few full-price paying guests around. Except for small talk, it's difficult trying to discuss anything with employees from the national electricity company, for example.
Children's playground (clubhouse and tiny zoo behind)
Anyway, to cut a long story short, last Summer we wanted to visit SIL near Toulouse. And since we would be in France, we decided to spend a week in a holiday village there. We chose La Manne at Bormes-les-Mimosas because it was on the way back to Italy and particularly because it is managed by Fred Illamola who used to manage the ski village at Risoul. The guy is dynamic, cool and runs a good entertainment team.
Way to the restaurant
The entertainment didn't disappoint, that I'm glad to confirm. The village is situated in a very green and beautiful park in Bormes-les-Mimosas in the South of France. There is a pool - but it was without charm and catered to too many people at the same time. They also do not provide pool towels.
We could dine al fresco when the weather is good and we've appreciated that. But the food wasn't good and you have to return your trays to a collection point. No one except me dressed up for dinner. One of the animation guys said that the village was cool because it had an ambiance de camping - and that was what we hated. If we had wanted to go camping we would have gone to one. It would at least have been much cheaper.
View of the pool from the pétanque pit
The rooms were clean and neat - but tiny. We had 2 connecting rooms and had to sleep with the doors open because there was no ventilation. There are tennis courts, ping pong tables and pétanque pits in the village and they will lend you the rackets, balls etc if you didn't bring your own. However, like for everything else, you have to fight to sign up for say...archery. All the places were taken up on the first evening of the signing-up. I prefer the Club Med system where you turn up at a fixed time and the first to come the first to be served.
The children playing pétanque with their father
The Babies stayed most mornings at the Children's Club so that we could do certain activities on our own. Afternoons were spent en famille. The Teenager - we almost never saw him. He joined the Teenagers' Club and spent his time with other...teenagers. I must say that we were not too impressed with the 2 guys responsible for the teenagers. As individuals, they were cool and very talented (one of them Tony is a superb breakdancer), but they were too focused on the show that they were going to put up at the end of the week and neglected their "real"responsibilities. Hub found the Teenager one afternoon blue and immobile next to the pool. The boy was suffering from heat stroke. He had played football with the Club all day and they didn't make him drink or put on his cap. In fact, they didn't even notice that he was suffering. And on another evening he came back to the room at 4 in the morning, after hours watching horror movies with the Club! That was irresponsible.
Fred Illamola and his wife Carole acting
Other than that we had a good week. The evening entertainment was good (they have a big open-air arena). The weather was fabulous and on certain evenings Hub would go stargazing in the garden with an amateur astronomer with a very advanced telescope. We've also taken a walk to discover hidden beaches (I sprained my ankle on the way back) and visited St Tropez. Hub and the Teenager have canoed in the sea and gone snorkelling at Porquerolles. And we have visited a farm and vineyard to taste and buy wine.
Ken and Tony leading the Teenagers' dance performance
The South of France is truly lovely. I hope that we'll be able to find other occasions to visit and explore the region again. As for Summer with Touristra, I think that we'll stick to Club Med in the future.